The meaning of worship

It’s taken some thought  – to get started on today’s study; I’ve been thinking about those discussions I’ve had with people, about, ‘what it is – to worship God.’

I remember one person saying that the whole church service was a form of worship.  Others, have specifically mentioned the singing of ‘worship songs’, which leaves me with a feeling that I would get a range of answers to the question: ‘What is worship?’

Perhaps the quote that Selwyn uses (A.W. Tozer), is worth considering: ‘He pointed out that although there was much evidence of praise in the Church, he saw little sign of true worship. ‘Praise,’ he said, ‘is thanking God for what He does; worship is adoring God for who He is.’

As Selwyn states in the last part of today’s study: ‘To worship God is to give Him the glory that is due to Him.”

Maybe, there is a problem with how we perceive God? Could it be that we have raised ourselves up in status over the last few years with the advances in science and medicine; and, in the same time reduced God’s role and status in creation, and even our salvation?  Has there been some loss of the wonder and awe of God, in some churches?  Has there been a greater focus on doing God’s work in social justice areas to such an extent that some have taken their eyes off Jesus?

To experience God’s love through Jesus leaves us with a heart that constantly sings the same song as we hear in Revelation 4:8b-11 (NIV): ” … Day and night they never stop saying: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

You exist, by God’s will alone – you are redeemed and saved through Jesus, by God’s will alone. The awe and wonder of the last sentence can only be fully realised during our worship of the one, true God. Do you agree?

Free – to worship

The key verse, from the text set for reading and meditation, sets the theme for today’s study: ‘Let my people go, so that they may worship me … ‘. Exodus 7:16

Selwyn starts his study, as follows: “I have no hesitation in saying that the greatest ministry of the church in Antioch was its ministry to Jesus.

I really like this bit in today’s study: “God instructs us to worship Him because He knows that as we open the door of our hearts in worship, He can come through that same door and make His presence known in our hearts.”

To worship Jesus is to enjoy His presence. It is to me, like a window that gives us a tiny glimpse of heaven and His light shines into our hearts and minds, making it easier for us to see the way ahead.

These days are getting darker; consequently, we need to keep open the door of our hearts in worship, so that God can draw near to us, and guide us – in the same way that He guided the church at Antioch. Do you agree?

 

The right focus

Selwyn, now “looks at another distinctive of the Antioch church: it was a church that knew the importance of worship. The account in Acts 13:2 tells us that while they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit spoke to them and provided guidance. …

The church at Antioch was not only a church that ministered to the needy, but one that knew also how to minister to the Lord in worship.”

Selwyn goes on to discuss the issue that some have lost this balance.

I think this is a good issue to address in our own churches; it’s an issue, I think, which needs to have (mature, Christian) input from outside our own congregations because we are often blind to our own shortcomings. It’s an issue that requires a lot of prayer and perhaps some fasting as well. The last point had me thinking – when was the last time I fasted? Sadly, it has been a long time ago; it’s an area that I should address as soon as possible – because it probably means that I’ve become too comfortable in my own environment.

What do you think?

 

‘Limited caring’

It’s an important message which Selwyn writes about, in today’s study.

He says: “Although there is a great amount of caring in the world, much of it is care for one’s own (family & friends). … When Christians care ONLY for other Christians, they deny the very nature of the Church which Jesus Christ founded. Christ shared His love with everyone, irrespective of their class or creed. So must we.”

In the parable of the good Samaritan; Jesus says in Luke 10: ‘ … Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” ‘ We too, are called to show mercy – to everyone, including those who are  different to us – in terms of social status, race and religion.

Jesus, our Lord and our God has shown mercy to all of us – do you reflect His mercy when you interact with others?

‘His way’

Selwyn picks for today’s reading and meditation, Luke 4:14-29 (NIV) – it’s a very useful text to meditate upon.

“Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.

Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’” “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.”

“I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed – only Naaman the Syrian.”

All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.”

Jesus is aware that they have not accepted Him as the promised Messiah – to the people of Nazareth He is still Joseph’s son. They see him as a person who is anointed by God to perform miracles. Consequently, they considered themselves to be in a privileged position – that He would perform great miracles for His town, because He was ‘one’ of them. Yet, He tells them that God in the past, has cared for Gentile women and Gentile lepers; especially in those times when Israel had done evil in God’s eyes. The comparison is all too clear to the people, and they are furious – to the point that they would break their own laws, in their attempt to kill Jesus on the Sabbath.

It’s interesting, that at that time. Jewish men thanked God regularly that they were not born ‘a leper, a woman, or a Gentile’.  Yet God sees into the heart of all men and women  – it does not matter if they are a man or a woman – it does not matter if they were born a Jew or a Gentile, it does not matter what sort of illness they may have – all, that matters is their relationship with Jesus, the one true God.

The last sentence of today’s text tells us that Jesus – went His way. Even if it meant that He was walking away from His town and all His childhood friends.  As Selwyn states: “As His followers we have to follow His way, not ours. And His way is caring for everyone, everywhere.” Sometimes it means that we too, have to walk away from out comfortable past, and walk hand-in-hand with Him – past the murderous crowd – to tell people the good news about Jesus and to set the oppressed free.

Your view?

 

“I couldn’t care less”

Selwyn introduces today’s study, as follows: “A few days ago we said that to be a Christian is to be sensitised – sensitised to everyone. Jesus was (& is) sensitive to each individual, and if we are to be His followers, we are to follow His example.”

Further on, he recalls an occasion when he heard a person say that they ‘couldn’t care less’, in regard to helping other people who were in need of help. A person who is following Jesus is not able to say those words, it’s just not part of their nature to do so.

The Spirit, who dwells within in us (following our conversion), is constantly moulding us into the nature of Jesus.  It becomes, unnatural for us to lose the ability ‘to care’.

Consequently, a person who states that they couldn’t care less (in my opinion), is not following the real Jesus, our Lord and our God. What do you think?

The law of Christ

To a significant degree, I think that the verses picked by Selwyn for today’s reading and meditation cover the topic really well.

Galatians 6:1-10 (NIV): “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. … “

We should be aware that caring for each other involves action – not only encouraging words. To carry each other’s burdens implies that we come alongside those who are struggling with a load, and we lend-a-hand; it’s an action where our efforts reduce the load carried by another.  Your views?